Sparks

Hello, how ARE you?

By Sharmila Rao Writing Prompt on The Isolation Journals: How ARE you? What happened yesterday evening motivated me to attempt this prompt. I dropped in to meet one of my friends whom I was seeing after a year because of the Covid protocols. She is a cancer survivor and I had gotten closer to her during this challenging journey of hers. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and she replied I am fine, Sharmila. I could see her eyes were saying something else though. As we got talking about the past year and how it has affected each one us, I told her of the many changes I have begun to incorporate in my life, one of them being giving due priority to myself—something I felt I had seriously lacked all my life. The moment I mentioned this to her I was taken aback by her soft almost immediate plea to…

Sparks

The Nyx Café

By Ron Salisbury Day stood by our table with her eager smile,pad and pen at ready. “Today we only have two specials,” she said.“The first one includes an amuse bouche;one hour and a half of good sleep. Upon wakingyou wonder why? Then realize you’re still dampfrom a hot flash. The appetizer is a couple of hourswhen the pillows are too soft, too hard, or both,the bed clothes too heavy, cramp in your big toe,wondering if you should call the doctor aboutthat little pain in your side. Suddenly you realizeyou have been asleep because of the dream you hadfilled with people you absolutely don’t know.The main course is filled with noise—traffic, butyou live on a cul-de-sac, the overhead fan butit’s not on, a strange hum from the kitchen,the dogs rushing downstairs and you get upto check and find them both at their water bowls,you might as well see if the doors are locked….

Sparks

The Hum

By Camille Sherman It startled me. The devices were powered off, the lights relieved of duty. The street below offered no atmosphere or background detail. All is still.  I whip my head, crane my neck, squint my eyes. The hum does not become louder, more apparent, more directional. It almost becomes maddeningly softer, like a drop of water has come and diluted its color so its wayward edges are harder to spot.  It doesn’t quite have a pitch. I rule out the heater, much more ostentatious when it kicks on to rescue cold feet. I come to terms with the fact that it is likely the refrigerator, reassuring me that it is trusty and functional. I put my mug in the sink, grab the blanket off the couch, and slide into bed. Lying there, I realize the devices are powered off, the world is asleep. The low hum is the…

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Studio Apartment

By Deb Fenwick She’s ready to set the world on fire. She’s got the requisite credentials: a freshly printed MBA from Wharton and a studio apartment in Brooklyn Heights. Yes, it’s a studio, but it’s a nice studio—spacious with carefully curated accessories. She even has houseplants. She can’t get to the gym or her Pilates class right now, well, because . . . Covid. She meets up with girlfriends for gossipy, boozy, Zoom happy hours on Fridays where everyone looks great from the waist up. She even puts on lipstick for the calls so that she can see the after image of her lips on the wineglass long after everyone logs off. It’s proof that she had fun. She and her friends are in that sweet spot after college but before the gorgeous weight of marriage, mortgages, and children (in that order) that will bind them to suburban homes with…

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My Dream Is…

By Susie Moses I dream of living for awhile in a cabin in a thick forest at the edge of a quiet lake, possibly in the North Woods of the Adirondacks or the wilds of Minnesota on the Canadian border, or maybe the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington.  Maine would work too. I will have a canoe, or these days, a kayak, easier to manage solo.  I will arise as the sun emerges, put on a jacket and knit cap against the morning chill, and insert myself into my boat for a silent tour of the shoreline. As I watch the light spread from the horizon, changing colors are reflected in the low-lying clouds as the sun burns off the fog. My lake will be sparsely populated, no jet skis or motor craft of any kind, just self-propelled canoes or kayaks, and at that early hour I…

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Sindee reveals her secret

The Chronicles of Sindee Volume 6:  Sindee reveals her secret By Su Shafer The moon was waxing, getting near to full. She could feel it growing in the night sky. The soft fluttering of wings inside, near her heart. Every night they grew more insistent and she knew that tomorrow night or maybe the next, they would take over: she would change. The fluttering inside made it hard to sleep. Sindee lay awake in her crib, staring at the patterns in the lace canopy. Stuffy was quiet beside her, but she didn’t think he was asleep. “Stuffy, are you asleep?” “No. Are you?” “Obviously not,” Sindee replied, annoyed. She sighed. Stuffy wasn’t the brightest sometimes, but given his tiny dinosaur brain, what could she expect? “I guess I should tell you something,” Sindee went on. “Something important, that I’ve been keeping secret.” “Oh boy, a secret!” Stuffy chirped, flapping his…

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Letting Cancer Change Me

By Carol Harvey Eight years ago, I lay in an icy cold medical room, convinced that my presence there was a case of mistaken identity. I’d had a routine mammogram a week before and thought nothing of it. I was annoyed when I was called back for a second mammogram on the first day of my daughter’s spring break. We had plans to do something fun that day. This was not it. Immediately after the inconvenient mammogram I was steered into a biopsy room. I chatted with the doctor and radiology tech during the procedure and they answered my naive questions. I then explained that I couldn’t possibly have cancer because I was a self-employed single mom. In just a few months I was going to be an empty nester. Cancer or any life-threatening illness was just not part of that plan. Besides I felt fine. Right after I said…

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The Inner Critic Tar Pit of Doom and Despair

By Su Shafer Beware the trap that writers often fall into: The Inner Critic Tar Pit of Doom and Despair—the black hole of fear in your head that says you have nothing new or exciting to say or that even if you are personally excited by what you’ve written, it’s not good enough for someone else to read or hear.  The Tar Pit of Doom and Despair is a creative quicksand that will sink the soul right out of your writing, further feeding the fear of mediocrity. The only way to escape this pit is to get out of your head.  I’ve found doing timed free writes is a great way to do this. When your time is restricted, you don’t have time to obsess over a word or a phrase and there simply isn’t enough time to polish. There is something freeing and reassuring about that.  And having a time…

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Clichés

By Camille Sherman What is the scientific process Of transforming a thing Out of reverence and relevance And into cliché     Is it a simple question of quantity The stomach ache that follows Empty candy wrappers Fanned out before tiny costumed bodies   Is it great expectation A push for originality An inner motor disdained By what’s been done before   Perhaps boredom or impatience A haughty bristle at the suggestion That there is something new to gain   We’ve seen it all before Said it all before Thought it all before   But when no one is looking And we sneak a furtive glance at the stars Or steal the scent of a passing flower Or well at the first notes of a love song Our sweet clichés will rise again Unoffended that we were too cool To remember why they were worthy Of perpetual repetition To begin…

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Goodbyes

By Julie Wilder-Sherman Goodbyes can come in so many forms.  There’s the long goodbye. The short goodbye. The swollen goodbye and the thin goodbye. The brittle goodbye and the overwrought goodbye. Short goodbyes can be quick for so many reasons. You don’t like someone, so you want to get away. You love someone too much and each moment of your parting makes you feel worse. Short goodbyes can occur because you’re ready to move on. Or you’re afraid. Or you’re late for an appointment. Or you just don’t like situations that drag on and on. Short goodbyes can be a brisk hug, a handshake, or even dropping someone off at the curb at the airport. Long goodbyes can be swollen with tears. They can get wet and messy and sweaty. Long goodbyes can leave puffy eyes and red noses. Long goodbyes can have kids tugging at their parents’ coats, rolling their…